Forth 1 Hurlford 1
The Wanderers drew 1-1 with Super League Hurlford United at Kingshill Park this afternoon in the Scottish Cup 3rd Round. A superb Andrew Gilchrist effort early in the second half levelled the match after the visitors had taken the lead minutes from the break. After that, a fine backs to the wall performance ensured the Forth will travel to Blair Park next week for the replay. The only sour note was what looked like a serious injury to Wanderers stopper Jordan Smith.
A decent crowd had gathered at Kingshill for the match, including a sizeable visiting contingent, and they were rewarded just before kick off when the late November sun made a welcome appearance.
Forth took the game to their Super League opponents from the start and forced a corner within a couple of minutes, Chris McGroarty’s ball finding Jordan Smith at the back post but his header back across the goal was diverted for another corner which ‘Ford keeper Alistair Brown punched clear. At the other end a Frank Gibson shot drifted wide while Daniel Mitchell just failed to connect with a dangerous cross from the left as Hurlford began to exert some pressure. Forth were being forced back and restricted to counter attacks but from one of them Robbie Brown volleyed wide after a Andrew Gilchrist ball was only partially cleared.
Forth keeper JC Hutchsion was then called into action making a couple of comfortable saves as Hurlford pressed for the opener and the Forth stopper was being ably assisted by some sterling defending as the Wanderers continued to defy the pre-match odds. In fact, the Wanderers spurned the best opportunity of the match on 36 minutes when excellent work by Gilchrist out on the left saw him turn and leave two defenders in his wake before perfectly weighting a pass to Chris Lennon who was in clear on the Hurlford goal. However, Lennon’s first touch was a heavy one and this allowed Brown to race from his goal and smother the ball ahead of the Forth forward.
Hurlford continued to press at every opportunity and Smith was on hand to clear after a shot from the left had evaded Hutchison. With half time approaching, Forth had managed to limit the visitors to half chances although that was to change on 41 minutes when Hurlford made the breakthrough. Gibson gathered the ball just outside the box, made space for himself and curled a shot into the top right hand corner giving Hutchison no chance. The ‘Ford could have doubled their lead on 44 minutes when, after a corner, the ball broke to Daniel Mitchell but he fired over from a good position. A second goal would’ve been harsh on the Wanderers considering the effort put in throughout the half but at 1-0 down, the tie was far from over.
The Wanderers were forced into a change at half-time, Stephen McQuade filling in at Centre Half for the injured Jordan Smith but they began the second half brightly and forced an early corner. However, this was quickly cleared and Hurlford broke at speed and worked the ball out to Paul McKenzie who raced in on goal but he could only fire his shot across the goal and wide.
Forth continued to press and visiting keeper Brown just reached a Lennon cross before Andrew Gilchrist. Undaunted Gilchrist equalised on 50 minutes with a goal out of nothing. There looked to be little danger when the ball was played to him but the Wanderers striker controlled the ball, spun and chipped a delightful ball over the stranded Brown and into the net, to the delight of the home support. Forth now had the bit between their teeth and put the ‘Ford defence under pressure for the next 10 minutes or so but the visitors held firm and having weathered the storm began to exert some pressure of their own.
In fact, it was becoming a procession towards the Forth goal and Hutchison did well to save from Daniel Mitchell and Neil McGregor before Ross Robertson spurned another good Hurlford chance,firing wide. Hutchison then appeared to get a slight touch to a long range shot which rattled off the bar and the Forth keeper reacted quickly to fist the ball clear with Stewart Kean waiting to pounce. As the game wore on, Forth’s lack of recent action became apparent and they were hanging on desperately as Hurlford continued to attack in waves. The home defence was holding firm however and Hutchison was in imperious form whenever it was breached saving well from Mitchell and McGregor as the clock ticked down. Finally, after almost 5 minutes of injury time the referee blew the final whistle to the relief of the home support.
A battling performance from the Wanderers against an extremely good Super League side and one in which everyone played their part. Without doubt, it’ll be another huge ask in the replay at Blair Park next weekend but one which everyone at Forth will be looking forward to.
‘Mon the Forth.
Forth team : Hutchison,Howson,McLean,Smith(McQuade),Grant,Watson,Traynor,McGroarty,